Air quality in the Eastern Sierra is off-the charts bad due to blowing dust in the region.
The Air Quality Index for PM10 in Bishop reached above 2,000 on Tuesday morning, measuring 2,219 by 9 a.m., according to AirNow.gov, which is run by the Environmental Protection Agency. The index stops at 500, a level already considered “hazardous.”
Bishop has the worst air quality in the region, which includes Mammoth Lakes and Lone Pine — where the index measured for PM10 1,899 and 1,316 respectively as of 9 a.m.
PM10 is a coarse particulate matter typically found in dirt and soil.
The area also saw elevated levels of PM2.5, which is associated with wildfire smoke.
A Stage 2 health advisory has been issued in those areas, according to Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District, which monitors Inyo, Mono and Alpine counties.
That means people with respiratory or heart diseases, seniors and children should remain inside, while outdoor exertion should be avoided entirely.
Potential health impacts include: “Significant aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly,” according to the air control district. The general population could also experience an increase in respiratory effects.
While blowing dust was primarily fueling the poor air quality, wildfires from surrounding areas have also inundated the region with unhealthy smoke and ash. Ten fires may be impacting the air quality, including the Creek Fire burning to the west of Bishop.
That fire erupted last Friday in the Big Creek drainage between Shaver Lake, Big Creek and Huntington Lake, in the Sierra National Forest, according to the U.S. Forest Service’s InciWeb site.
It has charred nearly 225 square miles and blanketed Inyo, Mono and Alpine counties with thick smoke.